Construction On River Trail Extension To Meridian Set To Begin Soon

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

View of the railroad tracks alongside which the trail will run under Grand River Ave. in Meridian Township.

Following a pandemic delay, an eastward extension to the Lansing River Trail is set to break ground for construction this year. The proposed trail is slated to be constructed in three phases and will ultimately run from Michigan State University’s campus to Lake Lansing Park. 

As ELi previously reported, the new trail extensions, once completed, will provide pedestrians and cyclists a car-free path from Meridian Township all the way to Lansing, via East Lansing and MSU. The new trail will also provide another option for residents of East Lansing to bike or walk to Lake Lansing, or for Meridian Township residents who work in East Lansing or on campus to get into town.

Construction was set to begin in 2020, but was delayed along with any number of projects around the world as the Covid-19 pandemic set in. 

In May 2021, it seemed as though construction on the first two phases would begin by 2022, and funding for Phase III would be secured for it to be started in 2023, and the project is still on track to meet these goals. 

Assistant Township Manager and Director of Public Works Dan Opsommer told ELi in a phone interview that the River Trail phases are projected to be completed throughout 2022 and 2023. Phases I and II are in the final stages of engineering and preparing for bidding, according to Opsommer. 

Phase II would potentially overlap or conflict with some current construction on Okemos Road near West Grand River Avenue. Opsommer told ELi that this construction should be done by October. 

“Construction begins April 4 [on Okemos road] mostly working on the curbs and side of the road” Opsommer said. “We’re near the end of the water main project across from Playmakers, it should wrap up soon…intensive construction will begin in late April and continue until October.” 

According to Opsommer, this intensive work will include raising Okemos Road and putting in sheeting, and shoring retaining walls with steel rods that will prevent the road and the River Trail from sinking into the marsh. 

Meridian Township Senior Project Engineer Nyal Nunn explained more about the progress via email. 

Phase I will be paid for with federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Grant funds disbursed via the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Ingham County Trails Millage, and Meridian Township Pathway Millage. This is to construct the 1.1 miles of asphalt trail, timber boardwalk, and non-motorized bridge over the Red Cedar River. 

For a larger version of this map, click here.

Map of proposed construction of trail to link MSU to Lake Lansing.

Phase II includes 1.2 miles of asphalt trail — and one mile of asphalt trail already exists there —  and half a mile of widened sidewalk. The widened mile trail was completed last year to meet the current trail standards. Phase II was funded by the Ingham County Trails Millage and Meridian Township Pathway Millage. 

Phase III includes 2.7 miles of asphalt trail and timber boardwalk and a half a mile widened sidewalk. The widening for Phase III, as well as a portion of the trail connecting Lake Lansing to Central Park South in Meridian Township was finished last year. Phase III will use funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Natural Resources Trust Fund and the aforementioned county and township millages. 

Construction on Phase III could begin as early as 2022, but will be completed in 2023. 

This article was updated at 8:10 a.m. on Mar. 29, 2022, to reflect that Opsommer is also Meridian Township’s Director of Public Works.

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